Telecom Infra Project unveils OpenWiFi Release 1.0

WiFi
The OpenWiFi community already counts more than 100 participants of various company types. (Getty Images)

Having progressed on efforts to disaggregate infrastructure components in other telecom segments, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is setting its sights on disaggregating Wi-Fi. 

TIP this week officially unveiled OpenWiFi Release 1.0, which the group described in a statement as a “community-developed, fully disaggregated Wi-Fi system, including Access Point (AP) hardware, an open-source AP network operating system (NOS) and an SDK to build Cloud native Wi-Fi Controller software for Service Providers and Enterprises.”

The widely-anticipated announcement came as expected one week after TIP said it would adopt the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s OpenRoaming standard as a key component of its solution stack. The group said disaggregated Wi-Fi will lead to benefits such as lower barriers to entry to develop enterprise-grade Wi-Fi solutions; accelerated innovation, enabling easier adaptation to specific use cases; and more choice and better economics for enterprises and service providers as they leverage Wi-Fi technology in myriad ways.

TIP's OpenWiFi stack

Though TIP began as a Facebook-initiated project in 2016, it has expanded and diversified in recent years to include membership and leadership from a variety of firms across telecom and related sectors. The OpenWiFi community will be just as diversified, already counting more than 100 participants of various company types. 

Among them, service providers and other companies around the industry and worldwide are set to start lab and field trials of Wi-Fi connectivity solutions based on TIP OpenWiFi. The group said that 14 access point designs are already available for indoor and outdoor use cases, with 16 more on the way this year. Also, multiple software companies are developing new solutions based on the OpenWiFi specs. 

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Service providers already testing OpenRoamng using OpenWiFi Release 1.0 infrastructure include Boingo and NetExperience in the U.S., among others. OpenWiFi gear was validated with Google’s Orion OpenRoaming service, according to TIP’s statement.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Deutsche Telekm is pursuing lab trials of OpenWiFi in Berlin, with field trials in the works elsewhere in Germany “The multi-vendor OpenWiFi network, with its ability to mix and match vendors who are specialists in software services and hardware development, offers us the best of all world options for creating a competitive and cost efficient Wi-Fi network to improve the experience for our residential customers, or in enterprise environments either as a standalone network or complementary to cellular as part of a converged solution,” said Daniel Brower, VP Technology Business Operations at Deutsche Telekom, in the TIP statement. “As co-chairs of the Wi-Fi groups, we are very pleased to see the OpenWiFi movement bring together the best of open-source community development with the rigor of good OEM product development practices.”

Products compliant with the OpenWiFi tech stack and APIs will be identified with the OpenWiFi logo in their branding and marketing materials.

The OpenWiFi project is being managed within TIP’s Open Converged Wireless (OCW) project group, which uses the requirements of service provider use cases to encourage industry collaboration on the building, testing and validation of new compliant products. The OCW group hosts weekly standup calls and monthly development sprints that are open to all companies that have signed a TIP participation agreement, and want to contribute to the project. 

The new effort to pursue disaggregated wireless infrastructure will not stop at Release 1.0, as the OCW group also is chartered to expand the OpenWiFi stack to include small cells and switching in its vision for a fully converged indoor wireless system, TIP stated.